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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 1995;9(10):553-6.

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and the treatment of critical pulmonary hypertension in congenital heart disease.

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Department of Paediatric Cardiology, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, UK.


Certain forms of congenital heart disease (CHD) confer a high risk for the development of severe pulmonary hypertension before and after corrective cardiac surgery. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has theoretical benefits in the treatment of this complication in that it assures oxygenation, corrects acid-base balance and provides haemodynamic support at the same time as allowing lung rest from ventilation. We examined our experience of the 117 children and neonates supported with ECMO between November 1989 and July 1993. Of these, five received support for critical pulmonary hypertension associated with congenital heart disease. They comprised three who had undergone surgical repair of CHD, one whose total anomalous pulmonary venous drainage was diagnosed and corrected whilst on ECMO and one neonate with functional pulmonary atresia. Pulmonary artery pressure (PAP) was estimated by Doppler echocardiography in all patients and confirmed invasively in two. The median systolic PAP was 46 (range 42-65) mmHg prior to ECMO. The median ratio of pulmonary to systemic arterial pressure (PAP/SAP) was 0.75 (0.70-0.92). Following ECMO of 16-120 h duration, the median systolic PAP was 34 (30-49) mmHg with PAP/SAP 0.50 (0.35-0.60). All patients survived and there were no complications related to ECMO. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is an effective treatment in critical pulmonary hypertension and should be considered in all patients in whom this is refractory to conventional measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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